'Team Moscow' wins $100K in PayPal's Battle Hack 2013

A group of Russian software developers dubbed "Team Moscow" has won PayPal's $100,000 Battle Hack 2013 awarded for the best socially worthy use of PayPal's API. A team of Israel finished second and one from Miami finished third.

Team Moscow produced a "Donate Now" application that leverages Bluetooth Low Energy technology to allow anyone to instantly donate to a cause right from their mobile device without filling in lengthy forms. Team Tel Aviv had an app that connects runners to encourage running, and Team Miami had LoanPal, a peer-to-peer lending service for "underbanked individuals."

Background:PayPal's Battle Hack competition wants cool social apps

Team Moscow members include Sergey Pronin, Alexander Balabna, Bayram Annakov, and Oksana Tretiakova, who are sharing the $100,000 prize. Pronin responded to questions via e-mail:

What kind of background do you have in application development?

I have bachelor's degree in Software Engineering from National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE). My teammates and I work for a Russian software company called Empatika, where I'm a senior developer working primarily on an app called App in the Air. I love programming and developing applications, and all of us enjoy participating in the internal hackathons our company hosts. For example, at the company's last hackathon a few months ago we worked on an Arduino for the first time.

I use Objective-C and Python on daily basis, and Java and Web from time to time. I'm also currently in the second year of a Master's degree program in software engineering.

What does your winning PayPal application do?

The project consists of two main parts: the beacon, an Arduino-based BLE beacon with a Rainbowduino screen, and the client app. The idea is to help people to donate by simplifying the actual donation process and make donations more contextual. For our presentation we used "Food for Homeless" as an example, a bus that serves food for homeless people. Typically, the only way to donate is to fill in 23 fields in a form on their website, a problem that is even worse when you are on a smartphone. If you are on foot and see the bus you don't have much time to fill all the forms, our app would address this problem.

Any other comments about your experience in the PayPal contest are welcome.

It is not our first hackathon, but I can surely say that it was the best experience. PayPal has done a really great job -- the environment and facilities can't be beat.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: emessmer@nww.com

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